August 27th, 2011

The Gang
  • acmeeoy

Secrecy, leaks, and the real criminals - Glenn Greenwald

Ali Soufan is a long-time FBI agent and interrogator who was at the center of the U.S. government's counter-terrorism activities from 1997 through 2005, and became an outspoken critic of the government's torture program.  He has written a book exposing the abuses of the CIA's interrogation program as well as pervasive ineptitude and corruption in the War on Terror.  He is, however, encountering a significant problem: the CIA is barring the publication of vast amounts of information in his book including, as Scott Shane details in The New York Times today, many facts that are not remotely secret and others that have been publicly available for years, including ones featured in the 9/11 Report and even in Soufan's own public Congressional testimony.  

Shane notes that the government's censorship effort "amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath," particularly given the imminent publication of a book by CIA agent Jose Rodriguez -- who destroyed the videotapes of CIA interrogations in violation of multiple court orders and subpoenas only to be protected by the Obama DOJ -- that touts the benefits of the CIA's "tough" actions, propagandistically entitled: "Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."  Most striking about this event is the CIA's defense of its censorship of information from Soufan's book even though it has long been publicly reported and documented: 

A spokeswoman for the C.I.A., Jennifer Youngblood, said . . . ."Just because something is in the public domain doesn't mean it's been officially released or declassified by the U.S. government."

 Just marvel at the Kafkaesque, authoritarian mentality that produces responses like that: someone can be censored, or even prosecuted and imprisoned, for discussing "classified" information that has long been documented in the public domain.  But as absurd as it is, this deceitful scheme -- suppressing embarrassing information or evidence of illegality by claiming that even public information is "classified" -- is standard government practice for punishing whistleblowers and other critics and shielding high-level lawbreakers. 

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Forgive the random bolding and centuring, I have no idea why LJ's fucking up.
Canadian Borg

Lifelong Conservative supporter gets Layton's farewell words tattooed on his arm

By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – 12 hours ago

TORONTO - He's a lifelong Conservative supporter, but Troy Oakley was so moved by Jack Layton's farewell words to Canadians he now has them tattooed on his arm.

"It's not about party lines with Mr. Layton, it's about being good to everybody else and just doing the right thing," says Oakley, 39, a college registrar from Mississauga, west of Toronto.

Of the 27 tattoos adorning his body, Oakley says this one is his favourite.

Running across the top of his forearm, the words stretch about 16 inches from his wrist to his elbow and were inked on his arm in a tattoo shop in Oshawa on Thursday night.

"My friends, love is better than anger," reads the text lifted from a letter left by the New Democratic Party leader before his death Monday of cancer.

"Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

Oakley says the message touched him because it is simple and brimming with common sense.

"People can look at things in a negative manner, or they can look at things in a positive manner," says Oakley.

"I mean, the guy is lying on his bed dying and all he's thinking about is everybody else. I think that speaks volumes to why I was honoured to put these words on my skin."

Oakley hopes his tattoo will remind others about Layton's optimism. The numerous posts a photo he posted on Facebook and Twitter has generated tell him it's working.

"A lot of people have seen this tattoo, so it's already made a difference because now they're going to remember those words."


OP Says: I know it's a small thing, but stuff like this gives me hope that party lines can be crossed.

Republican Politician Naked, Bending Over on Gay Sex Site

Puerto Rico's Anthony Weiner is much more thrilling than ours: Last week, images from Puerto Rican senator and GOP cheerleader Roberto Arango's alleged profile on gay hook-up app Grindr surfaced. When a Puerto Rican TV show confronted him, Arango neither confirmed nor denied making the profile but offered this excuse:

You know I've been losing weight. As I shed that weight, I've been taking pictures. I don't remember taking this particular picture but I'm not gonna say I didn't take it. I'd tell you if I remembered taking the picture but I don't.

All an innocent mistake. Simple misunderstanding. I thought "Grindr" was a community for trading work-out tips? I've been having trouble toning my torso. Also, this area right here, lemme get the angle right so you can see it —

Aahh, there, much better. Really been trying to tone my grundle these days! Better post this picture on Grindr, too. Need advice on how to lose these three extra pounds from the inside of my asscrack.

Arango, a member of the Puerto Rican Senate, vice-chaired George W. Bush's 2004 Puerto Rico campaign.


Friendly reminder: please refrain from evoking the "all homophobes are secretly gay" meme.
...because it is pathetic

Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact

Q. Texas governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry, at a campaign event this week, told a boy that evolution is ”just a theory” with “gaps” and that in Texas they teach “both creationism and evolution.” Perry later added “God is how we got here.” According to a 2009 Gallup study , only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution. If a majority of Americans are skeptical or unsure about evolution, should schools teach it as a mere “theory”? Why is evolution so threatening to religion?

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wapo on faith

I'm no Dawkins fan but ngl he took the words right out of my mouth on this issue.
Darren/People Photoshoot

Prisoners Left Behind on Rikers Island

No Evacuation for Rikers Island
By Andre Tartar

Look at the city's official hurricane evacuation map and you'll see that pretty much every island and coastal zone is classified as either a Zone A, B, or C. All except one, really. The sort of big one right next to LaGuardia Airport. You know, the one that's covered in prison buildings and houses some 12,000 inmates. Turns out the city's Department of Corrections has literally no evacuation plan for the island, according to The New York Time's City Room blog — which is particularly worrying since Rikers is built on landfill. Granted Hurricane Irene may do little more than give the city a heavy-handed bath, but the possibility of flooded prison cells remain.

For a little peak at what could happen, though likely on a much lesser scale, Solitary Watch points to the ACLU's post-Katrina report on how Orleans Parish Prison fared during the hurricane.

This culture of neglect was evident in the days before Katrina, when the sheriff declared that the prisoners would remain "where they belong," despite the mayor's decision to declare the city's first-ever mandatory evacuation. OPP even accepted prisoners, including juveniles as young as 10, from other facilities to ride out the storm.

As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings, power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests.

"The sheriff's office was completely unprepared for the storm," said Tom Jawetz, Litigation Fellow for the National Prison Project. "The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals did more for its 263 stray pets than the sheriff did for the more than 6,500 men, women and children left in his care."

Prisoners went days without food, water and ventilation, and deputies admit that they received no emergency training and were entirely unaware of any evacuation plan. Even some prison guards were left locked in at their posts to fend for themselves, unable to provide assistance to prisoners in need.

Rikers already has a pretty rotten reputation, but letting prisoners wallow in half-flooded cinderblock cell buildings would be taking it to a whole new level.

Locked up and Left Behind: Hurricane Irene and the Prisoners on New York's Rikers Island [Solitary Watch]



I'm absolutely devastated. I wish I could say I'm surprised.

ETA: Here are some actions you can take.

Kansas City artist strike backs with "Welcome to Brownbackistan"

"Welcome to Brownbackistan" shirts to benefit the arts

Source The Pitch Kansas City

If you've got any left-leaning friends in Kansas, you've likely seen the above image in your Facebook feed, Twitter roll or inbox. "Brownbackistan" refers to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission back in February, then — when the Legislature appropriated funds — vetoed the funding. [The Pitch] wrote all about it

The whole "Brownbackistan" thing is difficult to trace, having only been added to the Urban Dictionaryback in June. The earliest reference to the "pseudo-Christian fascist state where the arts are not publicly funded" seems to be a posting to the Democratic Underground site back in April.

Regardless of the origin of the term, these T-shirts have been selling like hotcakes via the Welcome to Brownbackistan Facebook page, organized and designed by artist Emily Eakes. Because of the state of the arts in Kansas, Eakes has earmarked $2 from every shirt as a donation to arts organizations in the state. There's an interesting wrinkle, however, according to the press release:

"Eakes initially sought partnerships with local arts organizations. She quickly discovered that regardless of their individual opinions, they didn't want to risk offending patrons nor donors. Organizations that will receive the donation dollars will not be released until after the donations are made."

We'll keep you posted as to who gets the money.

[ETA. It's only 2$ donated per shirt but she's printing these off herself and I appreciate the initiative.]
The Gang
  • acmeeoy

I did not see this IRL plot twist coming...

Gadafy daughter who 'died' in 1986 alive

The adopted daughter of Muammar Gadafy, whom he claimed died as an infant in the 1986 US bombing of his Tripoli compound, appears to be alive and worked as a doctor in the Libyan capital, documents discovered by The Irish Times  indicate.

A room belonging to Hana Muammar Gadafy in the section of the Bab al-Azizia compound where the Gadafy family lived contained several documents that appear to indicate she grew up to study medicine in Tripoli and took English classes at the British Council in the Libyan capital.

Many Libyans have long doubted the story of Hana’s death, which Gadafy used to bolster the notion that he was a victim of western military aggression.

Among the items discovered by The Irish Times  yesterday are an examination paper from a Libyan university medical faculty signed “Hana Muammar Gadafy” in Arabic, and photographs of Hana including one showing her with Gadafy’s blood daughter Aisha. A British Council certificate, dated July 19th, 2007, showed that Hana Muammar Gadafy had achieved an overall A grade in an English language course there.

In February, a German newspaper obtained a copy of a document related to the freezing of Muammar Gadafy’s assets in Switzerland after Libya’s uprising began. The document listed 23 members of the Gadafy clan, including Hana, whose date of birth is given as November 11th, 1985, making her six months old at the time of the US air strike.

The Libyan rebels have managed to hold the Bab al-Azizia complex, which they first stormed earlier this week, despite intermittent bombardment and sniper fire from forces loyal to Gadafy.

Yesterday rebel fighters and curious onlookers swarmed the complex. At the residential building bombed by the US in 1986, and preserved since in that state by Gadafy, the rebels’ green, red and black flag flew next to the Qatari flag. In front, a sculpture of a golden fist crushing an American fighter jet, commissioned years ago by Gadafy, was spray-painted with the rebels’ colours. In recent months, Gadafy had used the balcony of the building to make defiant speeches against the Nato-led intervention.

Picking his way through the ramshackle building, where Gadafy had displayed the twisted metal fragments of the 1986 missiles to acolytes, Dr Jalal Suweib marvelled at the fact he could look around a place long forbidden to all but guests of the regime. “Like everything at the moment, it seems like a dream,” said the young medic, who spent the last six months treating the injured on the frontline in his hometown of Misrata. “We are tasting freedom after years in darkness.”